Dolls as Useful Items






Yes, dolls can be used in many ways.  Or so I found out when doing research for this blog post.  I always knew about the half-dolls as lamps, pin cushions, and whisk brooms.  What surprised me was   all the other uses for dolls that could fill a book!  Here is just some of the information I found.

The items most seen include what is called a half doll.  Half dolls are just that–generally, the upper half of a human figure, without legs. Half dolls were produced without legs so that they could be attached to something useful–very commonly, pin cushions, but also wisk brooms, tea cozies, and numerous things that could grace a ladies dressing table, such as powder boxes. (Denise Van   Lamps could come in various materials:  chalkware, wax, porcelain, hard plastic and vinyl.  Whisks were usually porcelain.  Pincushions came in porcelain, cloth, and celluloid.

Pincushion - Lamp - Whisk Broom


Lamp doll the Delores is restoring





A lot of these half dolls are found either without the bottom of the item or in various stages of original shape.  My friend Delores in West Virginia, shared this photo with me of the one she found and is in the process of restoring.




Then there are the less common forms – Perfume bottle top, powder puff and holder, and trinket box.  Most of these and the above are all in porcelain.  Rather rarer forms are a salt cellar (A salt cellar, also called salt or standing salt, is a vessel, usually small and made of glass or silver, used on the table for holding salt ), and a tea pot.  The Salt Cellar usually also came with a tiny silver or porcelain spoon to put the salt on your food.

Salt Cellar - Teapot

This particular teapot has what is called “arms away”, which means the arms are actually away from the doll’s body and the body of the teapot.  These are considered a more desirable form of half doll due to the fact that a lot of them probably got broken when used, since the porcelain was thin at that point.

There are also many forms of leather, cloth, knitted, crocheted, vinyl, and even celluloid dolls items.  These could be a purse, a childs hand muff, a pajama bag, and a toaster cover.

Pajama Bag - Child's Hand Muff

I have many more photo so if you’re interested in something specific, just let me know and I’ll be happy to share.  Here are just a few of the great reference books on half dolls.

The Collectors Encyclopedia of Half Dolls [Hardcover] Norma Werner (Author), Collector Books; 1st Ed. edition (May 1979)

The Half-Doll With Related Items, Makers & Values VOLUME 1 [Hardcover] Shona Lorrin (Author), Marc Lorrin (Author), Vol 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 edition (August 1999)

All-Bisque and Half-Bisque Dolls [Hardcover] Genevieve Angione (Author), Angione Genievie (Author), Schiffer Pub Ltd (March 1997)

All in all, I think I may have found a new collection for myself.  (My DH is groaning 🙂 )  Do you have a collection?  What is your favorite piece?

Next week: Crocheting for your dolls the Miss Nancy way  🙂

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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